I am going to disagree with the first sentence of the publisher’s description of this book. That sentence (as found on Goodreads and on Amazon) reads: “Great Plains Geology concisely guides readers through the geological development of the Great Plains region. ” But this book doesn’t guide the reader through the geological development of the Great Plains as much as it does provide a sort of travelogue of interesting geological features through the Great Plains. In fact, Diffendal himself writes in his preface that the book is:
intended for ecotourists, anyone with a broad interest in geology and some general education in science, professional geologists and geographers wanting to become more familiar with the region, and students, farmers, ranchers, and k-12 educators who want to know about the Great Plains and its geological development.
The book is broken into three sections, the first two being relatively brief. Chapter One -“What is the Great Plains?” sets about to define the area, which I had thought would be pretty direct, but it seems as though there is no hard and fast definition of the region. Diffendal makes a strong case for his definition.
Chapter Two – “Geologic History of the Great Plains” is quite interesting. As a lay person with no solid science background I enjoyed getting this very easy to read history of how this particular geology was formed.
But it is Chapter Three – “Visiting the Great Plains” – that really proves valuable for the traveler. With fifty-seven different locations described, this is an absolute treat. Diffendal describes unusual features to look for and in some cases where to go to see the evidence of geologic history, and in at least one case something a little more current:
I may remember this Texas park for, among other things, being the place where I saw my first tarantula in the wild. It was big, fast, and aggressive!
This list of geologic sites to visit, many of them in State or National Parks in the United States and Canada is nicely put together and the reader can’t help but feel Diffendal’s excitement for the geology he describes in these areas. That excitement is infectious and it definitely makes me want to hurry out and get to all these locations.
While I won’t get to all these sites – I’ll be lucky to get to just a few of them – I will definitely want to take this book along.
The book is nicely illustrated, often with photos taken by the author.
Diffendal wraps up his book with:
…many of the sites described do not fit the stereotypical view of the Great Plains as continuously flat and grass-covered, but that was one of my goals. I hope that I have provided you with a better understanding of the tremendous variation in the landscapes, geology, ecology, and archaeology of this wondrous place and have given you the itch to explore it either for the first time or once again in more detail.
My response is: “Yes you did. Thank you.”
Looking for a good book? Great Plains Geology by R. F. Diffendal is a wonderful geology resource and travel-guide for anyone with even a speck of interest in visiting sites of geologic interest.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgally, in exchange for an honest review.
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Great Plains Geology
author: R. F. Diffendal
publisher: Bison Books
paperback, 240 pages